Warwickshire  Industrial  Locomotive  Preservation  Group  (WILPG)

Manning, Wardle 0-6-0ST No.2047 of 1926 'Warwickshire'



Left:   0-6-0ST MW No.2047 of 1926 'Warwickshire' in blue livery at SVR Bridgnorth in August 1974 giving footplate rides along the headshunt whilst acting as Station Pilot.


Photo:   David Cooke

The Warwickshire Industrial Locomotive Group (WILPG) was formed in in 1967 to save a small steam locomotive which just happened to be the last Manning, Wardle (2047/1926) built in Leeds prior to the Company being wound up in 1927.

The Group initially comprised of 30 Members who each subscribed the princely sum of £10 to cover the purchase price (£150) and transport cost (£55), the balance going towards the cost of restoration to working order. The locomotive was moved from Rugby Cement Company to Bridgnorth (Severn Valley Railway) by road in October 1967 and during the next 14 months was partly dismantled and restored to working order, being steamed for the first time in early December 1968. Repainted in a new blue livery it was put to use on works trains and for giving footplate rides in the station yard at Bridgnorth during Steam Gala days. The locomotive was also used as a regular Station Pilot and on occasional filming duties (plus a visit to the'Town & Country Festival' at the National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh in 1974) until it was taken out of service at the end of 1975 for the boiler to be retubed. Following this the locomotive was assigned to the SVR Permanent Way Department and continued to be heavily used until finally withdrawn at the end of 1977 with a defective fusible plug. When the locomotive was eventually dismantled for overhaul (in 1988) it was found that the boiler was beyond 'economic repair'.

After some careful consideration a fund (WILT) was started in 1993 with the aim to purchase a new (or suitable second hand) boiler, the locomotive being re-assembled, and cosmetically restored to its original green livery and placed on static display outside the Kidderminster Railway Museum (in 1997) while the process of fund raising continued. In 2000 it was estimated a new boiler would cost in the region of £45,000 but this had risen to £60,000 by 2005. However, by this time the fund had reached almost £50,000 and after some targeted fund raising the fund had reached £100,000 by 2010.

The locomotive was moved from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth by road in November to be dismamtled and assessed to establish the cost of restoration to working order. In 2013 the decision was made to relocate the locomotive to Bewdley as more volunteer labour and secure

storage facilities existed there. The SVR Engineering Department undertook to overhaul the wheelsets, axleboxes and springs to give us a rolling chassis. Unfortunately, one half of the cylinder block was found to be beyond repair and would need to be replaced. A new 3D CAD

drawing has been produced and quotes obtained for patterns and castings (it being more cost effective to produce a new pair of cylinders). The cost including machining is less than £25,000.

In the meantime the frames and wheels have been cleaned and painted, new bearings made,

axleboxes machined and springs refurbished ready for re-assembly.

Most of the smaller components removed from the locomotive have already been transported

down to Bewdley where cleaning, refurbishment and painting is taking place. It is hoped that the locomotive restoration will be completed by 2024, with the new boiler placed on order in 2020.

Hunslet 0-6-0T No.686 of 1898 'The Lady Armaghdale'

Left:   0-6-0T HE686 of 1898 'The Lady Armaghdale' newly repainted in improved red livery at SVR Bridgnorth in April 1982 following a lengthy (nine year) overhaul during which time it received vacuum brake controls.


Photo:   David Cooke

In 1969 it was discovered that a veteren Hunslet locomotive was about to be disposed of by I.C.I. Dyestuffs Division from their Works at Blackley (Manchester). This was HE686/1898 which had originally worked on the Manchester Ship Canal Railway until 1963 when steam traction was replaced by diesel. A successful bid (of £250) was made to secure the locomotive and after a hectic dash down the M6 Motorway it arrived at Bridgnorth (Severn Valley Railway) in July 1969.

Following a quick repaint and a few minor repairs the locomotive was steamed to act as Station Pilot and to give footplate rides at Bridgnorth. It was also used on works trains and became a favourit with many film and TV crews, appearing in a number of Fils and Adverts, In 1972 it was withdrawn from traffic for what turned out to be a lengthy overhaul and finally returned to use in late 1981 complete with vacuum brake controls, new shape cab windows (round) and a sliding cab roof ventilator (as well as an improved livery). Initially moved to Bewdley to act as Station Pilot, it also went on loan to the Birmingham Railway Museum (in 1983 and 1986) and to the Crewe Heritage Centre (1988 but at the beginning of 1989 was again withdrawn with wasted smoke tubes. However, in 1992 the SVR decided to start having its own 'Thomas the Tank Engine' Events and consequently HE686 was given a complete overhaul, painted bright blue and

started a new life as 'Thomas' in 1994. The locomotive was registered as an official 'Thomas' with the License Holders and hired out to many Preserved Railways each year as well as appearing twice a year on the SVR.

In October 1998 to celebrate its Centenary the locomotive was repainted in Black MSC Rly. Livery appearing at Bury (ELR), Leeds (MRT) and finally Kidderminster (SVR) where it worked a shuttle service to Bewdley before reverting back to blue 'Thomas' livery in December.

HE686 continued its role as 'Thomas' until the end od 1999 when it was taken out of service for major boiler repairs (including a new inner firebox), which were carried out by Roger Pridham in Devon. Unfortunately these repairs were not completed ubtil 2001, and although was rapidly re-assembled and steat tested in November, it did not resume its 'Thomas' duties until early 2002. Since then the locomotive has performed well and has become even more well travelled with visits across the channel to Holland (Z.L.S.M.) in 2002-6 and to Germany (Krefeld) in 2005,

however in mid 2009 was again taken out of service with more boiler defects (thin tubes and broken stays). Due to a downturn in 'Thomas' bookings the SVR decided to delay any repairs, so at our request the locomotive was cosmetically restored in red livery as 'The Lady Armaghdale' and placed on static display in the Engine House Museum at Highley in October 2010. In March 2012 HE686 was moved out of the Museum for a few days to take pride of place

on the Visit Shropshire Stand at the Best of Britain Exhibition held at the N.E.C. in Birmingham.

HE686 was inspected by SVR Engineering Department in February 2014 with the result that a Estimate of Repair Cost has been produced. However the locomotive is not sceduled to return to service until the mid 2020's.